Wednesday 18 November 2020 is LGBT STEM Day, the annual international day for LGBTQ+ people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Pride in STEM spearheaded the first LGBT STEM Day on 5 July 2018.
Founded in 2016, Pride in STEM is a charitable trust, run by an independent group of LGBTQ+ scientists and engineers from around the world, whose goal is to raise the profile of LGBTQ+ people in STEM, as well as to highlight the struggles that they often face. Throughout each year, it runs a series of events called ‘Out Thinkers’ to showcase the talent of LGBTQ+ people in STEM, providing a platform where people can talk about their work while truly being themselves. These events feature a range of first-rate speakers talking about their research and experiences as LGBTQ+ individuals in academia and industry. Venues have included the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Retro Bar, the Brick Lane Theatre Festival, the Science Museum Lates, the British Science Festival, the Oval Theatre, and the Cambridge Science Festival.
LGBT STEM Day this year marks the life of the late Dr Frank Kameny (1925–2011). Kameny was a Harvard-trained astronomer who, in 1957/8 was sacked from his job as a government scientist and lost his security clearance because of his homosexuality. With his career prospects in ruins, Kameny became an early militant gay activist in the United States almost a decade before the Stonewall Riots. You can read more about his life as an astronomer and as a gay activist in my article ‘From Astronomy to Activism’ in last month’s Astronomy & Geophysics. 18 November 2020 is the 60th anniversary of the receipt at the US Supreme Court of Kameny’s appeal against his dismissal. Pride in STEM, which is marking the day with a (free!) virtual conference, hopes that November 18 could come to represent all the people who today continue to make the world of STEM a better and more inclusive place. Those working or studying in physical sciences may sign up for the LGBT+ Physical Scientists Network via the Institute of Physics.
Mark Stenhoff, Trustee